We talk a lot about the familiar faces: Jayron Hosley, Bruce Taylor, David Wilson, Jarrett Boykin, et al. But who will be the new guys bursting onto the scene for the Virginia Tech Hokies in the 2011 college football season? Who will be this year's Marcus Davis?
With the word coming out of spring practice, and the small amount of time they played in years past, here are the five guys identified as being the most likely breakout players for the Hokies football team this season.
As the brother of former Virginia Tech Hokie and current Tennessee Titan Vincent Fuller, Kyle Fuller has big shoes to fill.
The younger Fuller started six games for the Hokies a year ago as a true freshman, posting six passes defensed and a forced fumble.
He will see plenty of balls in 2011, starting opposite All-American and likely first-round NFL draft pick Jayron Hosley. As most opposing quarterback likely avoid throwing Hosley's way, it will give the eager Fuller ample opportunities to make big plays and anoint himself the next great Hokie cornerback.
Tariq Edwards has been getting rave reviews from the Virginia Tech Hokies' football coaches throughout the spring and summer.
A mostly special teams player in 2010, Edwards worked hard to earn the starting middle linebacker spot for the Hokies.
Bud Foster has had nothing but good things to say about Edwards, likening him to former Hokie great and current Houston Texan Xavier Adibi.
Virginia Tech fans can look forward to seeing the fleet-footed Tariq Edwards fly across the field all season long.
It's hard to call a player who started all of last season a potential breakout player; but Chris Drager qualifies because he will be switching positions.
Drager was recruited to the Virginia Tech Hokies' football program as a tight end, but switched to defensive end and cracked the starting lineup in 2010. He recorded two sacks and 33 tackles last year.
Now Drager has switched back to tight end and looks to start on the offensive side for the Hokies. I have a feeling this could be a big year for him. Any player that has the athleticism to start on both sides of the ball at a major college football program has a lot of talent for sure.
Much like Cam and Orion Martin before them, brothers Antoine and Derrick Hopkins will both be starting for the Virginia Tech Hokies defense this season.
Antoine Hopkins started 12 games for the Hokies a season ago, recording 45 tackles.
This season, he will be joined in the middle by Derrick. I imagine these two will be very good for each other. There are few relationships that encourage competition as much as brotherhood. The younger Derrick will be highly motivated by older brother Antoine, and vice versa.
I expect another productive season from Antoine and for Derrick to follow suit.
Logan Thomas has had Virginia Tech fans excited about his size and athletic ability since he first committed to the Hokies two and half years ago. He's had a few snaps here and there, but this season we will finally get to see him starting under center.
Even with the minute number of plays Thomas was allotted in 2010, he managed to wow the Hokies' faithful twice. Against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons he caught a one-handed touchdown pass, and against the Miami Hurricanes he came in cold and threw a 24-yard strike on a big third-and-16.
Thomas has done well throughout the spring, cementing himself as the starter after Tyrod Taylor went to the Baltimore Ravens. With a veteran receiving corps and David Wilson at his disposal, this should be a very productive first season for Thomas.